Thailand or Thailand (AFI: / taiˈlandja /; in Thai: ประเทศไทย?, Transliterated: Prathet Thai), officially the Kingdom of Thailand (in Thai: ราช อาณาจักร ไทย?, Transliterated: Ratcha Anachak Thai), is a state in the Southeast Asia, bordering Laos and Cambodia to the east, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, the Andaman Sea and Burma to the west, and Laos and Burma to the north. As of April 2021, there were about 70 million inhabitants, also known as Siam (pron. / ˈSiam /; in Thai: สยาม?; / Saˈja: m /), which was the official name of the nation until June 24, 1939 and from 1945 until 11 May 1949, the date of the definitive assumption of the current name. Between the years 1980 and 1990 Thailand started a significant process of industrialization that led it to be one of the middle-income powers among the countries bordering the Pacific, becoming one of the most powerful countries in Southeast Asia; the key sectors of the Thai economy are tourism, manufacturing and exports.
Etymology of the name
The word "Thailand" is the translation of the local term Prathet Thai, land of the Thais, where the word Thai means "free" or "independent" in the Thai language.
Archaeological finds in the north of the country seem to confirm the presence of groups of Homo erectus 500,000/600,000 years ago. In an archaeological site in the province of Krabi, traces dating back to 27,000/38,000 years ago have been found which testify to the presence of Homo sapiens. Among the evidence confirming the transition from a hunting and gathering economy to an agricultural one is that which came to light at the site of Khok Phanom Di, in eastern Thailand, inhabited between 2000 and 1500 BC. In the following centuries there were important technological advances for the smelting of copper and tin, and subsequently of bronze, with the progressive affirmation of ever more evolved communities.
The first civilizations that settled in today's Thai territory were affected by the influence of Indian culture, among them the "pre-Khmer" federation of Funan, which was formed about 2,000 years ago in the north-east, and the city-states of Dvaravati, founded mainly by the mon people, who were born around the middle of the first millennium in the central plain with the decline of Funan and spread Buddhism. The principalities of Funan contributed to the birth of the Khmer Empire, in the territories of today's Cambodia, which conquered a large part of the territory where Thailand is now and spread Hinduism again.
Migration of the Tai peoples from China
The academic debate on the provenance of the Tai peoples is still ongoing: in recent decades, based on linguistic studies, various scholars have argued that the Tai peoples come from an area that today belongs to the Guangxi region of China. Under the pressure of other peoples from the north, in the first millennium the Tai would have begun a process of migration to the south. Over the following centuries they would settle throughout northern Indochina, reaching today's Indian state of Assam. One of the first ethnic groups of these peoples were the tai yuan, founders in 638 in today's Northern Thailand of the small Kingdom of Hiran, which fell under the Dvaravati influence. It would later achieve autonomy, first becoming the Kingdom of Ngoenyang and, at the end of the 13th century, the mighty Lanna Kingdom. Other tai ended up settling in the Chao Praya basin, in the center of present-day Thailand.
Kingdom of Sukhothai
The governors of Sukhothai and neighboring Rad provinces, Pho Khun Bangklanghao and Pho Khun Phameung respectively, rebelled against Lavo's control and declared their independent territories in 1238. Bangklanghao proclaimed himself king of Sukhothai under the name of Pho Khun Sri Indraditya and annex